The Liberal National Government is reforming private health insurance to make it simpler and more affordable. The reforms include discounted premiums for younger people, improvements to mental health cover, and new Gold, Silver, Bronze and Basic tiers for hospital cover, to help consumers understand what services they are covered for, and compare different products.
The package of reforms has contributed to the lowest premium increase in nearly two decades. From 1 April 2019, the average private health insurance premium change is 3.25 per cent.
Further information about the reforms is available on the Department's website.
As part of the reforms, from 1 April 2019 insurers will not be able to offer benefits for certain natural therapies as part of a complying health insurance policy. These therapies include Alexander technique, aromatherapy, Bowen therapy, Buteyko, Feldenkrais, Western herbalism, homeopathy, iridology, kinesiology, naturopathy, Pilates, reflexology, Rolfing, shiatsu, tai chi and yoga.
The decision to remove some natural therapies from private health insurance cover was made following a 2015 review chaired by the Chief Medical Officer.
This review was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), which examined scientific evidence about the safety, clinical effectiveness and cost effectiveness of 17 different natural therapies. The review applied the NHMRC’s usual approach to assessing evidence.
The natural therapies were examined in the context of their funding by private health insurance, supported by the taxpayer funded private health insurance rebate.
The review found that in most cases there was insufficient evidence to draw definite conclusions regarding the clinical effectiveness of these therapies.
Following the outcome of the review, the Government took the decision to no longer use taxpayers’ funds to subsidise private health insurance cover for therapies that lack evidence of clinical efficacy.
These changes do not restrict providers of natural therapies from trading or stop Australian consumers from choosing to purchase natural therapies themselves.
However, private health insurance, subsidised by taxpayers, will not cover these therapies from 1 April 2019. Insurers will able to offer incentives to policy holders to purchase natural therapies.